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USA gun laws create impossible dilemma
EARLIER this week a young man, wearing a costume of protective gear similar to that worn in a film and carrying guns entered a cinema where that film was being shown in Aurora, Colorado and shot dead 12 people, injuring around 58 more.
The death toll may well rise. The young man must, by any reasonable criteria, be deemed deranged, but he was nonetheless able to amass an arsenal of weaponry and bullets over a few weeks without alerting any responsible body to the fact or raising an inquisitorial eyebrow. In the wake of the tragedy, the cinema chain, AMC theatres, has announced: “We will not allow any guests into our theaters in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings.”
This announcement has triggered a stunned response from many commentators along the lines of ‘a man in fancy dress shoots 70 people in a cinema provoking the immediate banning of fancy dress in cinemas’.
It serves to highlight the impossible dilemma facing politicians of sound mind in the USA. To even suggest a tightening of the bizarre gun laws of (what has been for decades at least) the most powerful nation in the world, spells instant death to a candidate at the ballot box. The right to bear arms is so central to the beliefs of middle America.
Otherwise perfectly reasonable Americans of my acquaintance react with exactly the same level of horror and incomprehension when I suggest the removal of their inalienable right to bear arms as I feel about them having that right in the first place.
The right for an American citizen to carry arms seems a powerful, almost religious belief comparable with the rights claimed by faiths worldwide to wear certain types of clothing, to kill animals in certain ritualistic ways or revere and protect specific animals, or to pierce or mutilate their bodies. Many of the practices of belief systems alien to us perplex us and were we to delete the ‘belief systems folder’ of the human hard disk and start again, I would hope that many of them would be happily forgotten.
It would take a brave generation of republican and democratic candidates to stand up to the backlash and transitional period, were they to co-operate in taking on this apparently insoluble problem. I am sure that many would love to but simply daren’t.
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